London – At last night’s Re-enlightenment Design Network Evening, LS:N Global members gathered to discuss the convergence of science and art in design. Appropriately held during London Design Festival, designers discussed new materials being used, the merging of physical and digital, and how serendipity can result in beautiful mistakes.
Designer and film-maker Keiichi Matsuda adopts a multi-disciplinary approach to examine the connection between technology, media and urbanism. Using a design fiction practice, Matsuda harnesses design to question the world we live in now and how it can be used to improve future living. ‘Designers have the power and the responsibility to match how technology is progressing within our culture,’ said Matsuda.
Silo Studio duo Attua Aparicio and Oscar Wanless use materials such as polystyrene in unconventional ways to create unexpected products. ‘Plastics are precious things, and they need to be used in more precious ways,’ said Wanless. They showed one project in which they use polystyrene, which becomes compact and hard when steamed, to create furniture and jewellery with the reconfigured material.
Els Woldhek and Georgi Manassiev, founders of Odd Matter, believe that chance plays an important role in their work. Showing the audience their OverNight series, they explained how they use traditional copper plating techniques, but let the copper take on its own life in an electroplating bath, in which the copper grows and takes on new forms. ‘We collaborate with our material and stumble on things,’ said Woldhek. ‘The result is not always a conscious decision.’
Caroline Till, course leader of the MA Textile Futures degree at Central Saint Martins, shared the work of students who are bringing science into their designs. Many are focusing on bio-facture, in which biological processes are used to create sustainable products. Till shared the work of former student Natsai Chieza, who created dye out of bacteria as a more sustainable way to colour textiles.
LS:N Global’s visual trends analyst Hannah Robinson told the audience about forthcoming trends in design. ‘There is an experimental mood – optimistic and collaborative,’ said Robinson. Serendipity and science are coming together, with designers collaborating with scientists to create works where the outcome is unknown. ‘A few years ago the aesthetic was more polished, but now artists are experimenting in an artful way and don’t necessarily know how the end product will play out,’ she said.
Not since the Enlightenment have the worlds of science and culture been more entwined. For a broader insight into this shift, not just in design, read our Re-enlightenment Rising macrotrend.